Getting Started

These instructions are intended to guide you through setting up an iOS app that uses BridgeApp to link BridgeSDK with SageResearch. This is not intended as a full guide to building iOS applications, but only as a guide to step you through the more convoluted parts of initial setup. This guide is a work-in-progress and will be updated as functionality is added by the Bridge team to support shared tasks and activities.

Github Project Setup

1. Create the repo on github

This link has instructions for adding an existing project via the command line.

2. Clone the project locally

Note: If you use iCloud to manage your Documents directory, you should clone your repository to a different location to avoid performance issues.

Carthage Setup

We use Carthage for dependency management. Once Swift Package Manager supports bundled resources we will work to support that dependency tool as well.

1. Create Cartfile

touch Cartfile
open -a Xcode Cartfile 

Edit your Cartfile to include pointers to the projects that your app will depend upon. For example, the mPower Cartfile looks like this:

github "Sage-Bionetworks/SageResearch" ~> 2.4
github "Sage-Bionetworks/BridgeApp-Apple-SDK" ~> 3.0
github "Sage-Bionetworks/MotorControl-iOS" ~> 1.6

This tells developers that MotorControl, SageResearch, and BridgeApp are all directly referenced by the mPower application. If you do not directly use SageResearch, you do not need to add it as a dependency since BridgeApp and MotorControl will resolve the appropriate dependencies for you.

Note: Check the github repositories for the latest versions of these dependencies to ensure that you are getting the most recent versions. This article will not always be up-to-date with the latest recommended versions.

2. Create Cartfile.private (Optional)

touch Cartfile.private
open -a Xcode Cartfile.private 

If you are intending to create a framework that can be used by other developers that does not depend upon Bridge, but will be including a sample or demo application that does, then you may wish to include github "Sage-Bionetworks/BridgeApp-Apple-SDK" ~> 3.0 in a private Cartfile instead. That will allow you to set up your application to use Bridge and Synapse without requiring developers that use the frameworks you have created to also import BridgeApp.

CardiorespiratoryFitness-iOS includes an example where this set up is used. That github project includes a validation application that pushes results to Bridge using BridgeApp and BridgeSDK but the framework can be imported by projects that do not use Bridge because it is included as a private dependency.

3. Create a setup script file

mkdir bin
touch bin/setup
chmod 755 bin/setup
open -a Xcode bin/setup

Edit the setup file to run Carthage updates. For mPower, the setup file looks like this:

#!/usr/bin/env sh

if ! command -v carthage > /dev/null; then
printf 'Carthage is not installed.\n'
printf 'See for install instructions.\n'
exit 1

carthage update --platform iOS --use-submodules --no-use-binaries --no-build

This sets up Carthage to only include dependencies for the iOS platform, to use submodules, to not use binaries, and to not attempt to build the project from the command line. While there are other ways that developers may choose to set up Carthage, the set up that is described in this article does not require building at this step. The frameworks are embedded and built dynamically using Xcode in the next section.

4. Run the setup executable


This will set up your Cartfile.resolved file, check out the submodules, and resolve all dependencies.

5. Commit your changes and push

Once you have set up Carthage, we recommend committing your changes and pushing to GitHub.

Xcode Project Setup

1. Create a new workspace and app project

It is better to start with a new project rather than attempt to modify the sample apps that are included with SageResearch or BridgeApp directly. This is for two reasons. First, these projects are not set up to be able to release a production iOS app to the App Store or as an Enterprise App. Second, you cannot then save your changes to github because these projects are read-only examples.

You should start with a workspace to make Carthage dependency management easier to maintain and build.

From within Xcode, first create a Workspace that is named after your app project. Then add the app project to that workspace. Optionally, if you are planning to add task modules that can be shared across projects, you may wish to create a separate project within the workspace for those frameworks. This will allow for simpler management of Carthage dependencies as well as moving the framework to a separate github repo at a later time should you desire.

2. Add Capabilities

You will need to add Capabilities for Keychain Sharing as well as certain background modes. Most projects that use Bridge are set up with the following:

  • Keychain Sharing - The login password (if used) and session/reauth tokens are saved to the keychain. If you use Bridge in an app extension, your application will need to set up a shared keychain and specify it in the keychainAccessGroup property of BridgeInfo so that BridgeSDK can access the same session and reauth tokens from within both the app and the extension. You might consider setting this up anyway, in case you later choose to support app extensions.

  • Background Modes - Some SageResearch tasks use background audio (to allow for spoken instructions) or location updates. Additionally, uploading task and survey results via BridgeSDK is done in the background.

  • App Groups - The app groups allows for shared UserDefaults and CoreData. If setting up an app group, also include the appGroupIdentifier key in the BridgeInfo-private.plist file.

  • Associated Domains - If your app uses phone or email based sign-in with app links, you will need to specify whatever domain you are intercepting and the SMS/email sign-in messages would need to format the link with that domain.

  • HealthKit - If your app accesses HealthKit data. For HealthKit data that is required such as demographic information, this should be stored in the user's Bridge profile for use by researchers as well as for use by your application in case the user does not give your application authorization to access HealthKit.

3. Add permissions to the Info.plist

Many active tasks require user authorization in order to gather data from the phone's sensors or HealthKit.

For certain types of permissions, you can use RSDStandardPermissionsStep as a starting point for setting up the permissions required by your application.

Typically, requesting authorization will be handled by the OS with a pop-up alert. You are required to include a description that will appear in this alert to describe how, why, and when the phone's sensors are being accessed. A full list of the required privacy permission keys is available here .

SBAPermissionTypeIdentifier Xcode Info.plist Name
healthKit Privacy - Health Update Usage description
Privacy - Health Share Usage Description
location Privacy - Location When In Use Usage Description
Privacy - Location Always Usage Description
coremotion Privacy - Motion Usage Description
microphone Privacy - Microphone Usage Description
camera Privacy - Camera Usage Description
photoLibrary Privacy - Photo Library Usage Description

4. Change "Deployment Info -> Main Interface" to LaunchScreen

The Main storyboard should only be displayed to a signed in user.

Bridge Setup

Due to certain limitations in how Xcode manages Info.plist permissions and building applications that use app extensions, both SageResearch and BridgeApp require embedding multiple frameworks. Which ones your app will require will depend upon your use-case.

1. Open Finder and drag the following Xcode projects into your workspace:

  • Carthage/Checkouts/BridgeApp-Apple-SDK/BridgeApp/BridgeApp.xcodeproj/
  • Carthage/Checkouts/Bridge-iOS-SDK/BridgeSDK.xcodeproj/
  • Carthage/Checkouts/SageResearch/Research/Research.xcodeproj/

2. Embed frameworks required for your application:

  • Select the App project and select the General settings tab.
  • Under Embedded Binaries select the + button.
  • Add each of the frameworks listed below.
  • After linking the binaries for each framework, build the project.
  • BridgeApp/BridgeApp.framework (iOS)
  • BridgeSDK/BridgeSDK.framework
  • Research/Research.framework (iOS)

BridgeApp requires both Research and BridgeSDK. It is the "glue" that connects Research tasks and Bridge surveys together.

  • BridgeApp/BridgeAppUI.framework (iOS) - BridgeAppUI is recommended for applications that run on iOS. It includes view controllers and app delegate classes that are useful for jump-starting a new application.
  • Research/ResearchUI.framework (iOS) - ResearchUI includes view controllers and views that can be used to run a task on an iOS device.

Active task modules built by Sage Bionetworks require these frameworks as dependencies. These frameworks are not designed for app extensions and should not be included for those targets.

  • Research/ResearchMotion.framework - A framework that includes a standard motion sensor recorder and permission handling.
  • Research/ResearchLocation.framework - A framework that includes a standard GPS distance recorder and permission handling.
  • BridgeApp/DataTracking.framework - A WIP framework used by Sage for tracking user data.

3. Modify AppDelegate to inherit from SBAAppDelegate

In order to inherit the functionality included in the base class SBAAppDelegate you will need to modify the app delegate created initially. This will setup default behaviors that you can optionally override from within the subclass.

//  AppDelegate.swift
//  GettingStarted

import UIKit
import BridgeApp
import BridgeSDK

class AppDelegate: SBAAppDelegate {


4. Download CMS Public Key

Authenticate with Bridge, then use the CMS Public Key API to retrieve your CMS pem file. Save the pem file you have retrieved to a private folder accessible from your Xcode project that is not part of the github repo (if this is an open source repo). Add the file to your Xcode project.

5. Add BridgeInfo.plist (required) and BridgeInfo-private.plist (optional)

Find the BridgeInfo.plist file that is included in BridgeAppExample. Copy/paste the file into your project support files. Remove or edit the keys in this file to include those required by your application. If your project is intended to be open source, you will want to include a file BridgeInfo-private.plist that points to those fields that should be kept private. The private plist will override any fields included in the open source version of the file. BridgeAppExample does not include a private plist so that it can be run from the simulator. For detailed usage, see code file BridgeSDK/SBBBridgeInfo.m

Key Private Optional Description
studyIdentifier YES NO "The identifier for this study" shown in "Settings -> General"
certificateName YES NO The name of the CMS public key pem file
cacheDaysAhead NO NO The number of days ahead to cache of upcoming scheduled activities
cacheDaysBehind NO NO The number of days behind to cache of completed and expired scheduled activities
appUpdateURL YES YES URL for updating the app
appGroupIdentifier YES YES The app group identifier under your target's Capabilities in Xcode if you want BridgeSDK to use that shared space.

6. Set up Sign-in and Main view controller

mPower 2 is currently the only app that is using both phone SMS and external ID sign in. This application is structured with two target apps within it. mPower2 is the app that has been released to the Apple App Store. mPower2TestApp is used for unit testing, to allow UI testing of different permutations of a complicated activity schedule, and to test the MotorControl framework, which is designed as a stand-alone framework of active tasks that can be used independently of either the containing application or Bridge services.

We recommend that you structure your app using a "module" structure for the active tasks to facilitate using these validated tasks without requiring integration with Sage Bridge and Synapse services.

To set up and use Bridge schedules and upload schemas, your view controllers will need to use a SBAScheduleManager instance or a SBAReportManager instance as the data source. See TaskBrowserViewController in the mPower2 project for an example.

Bridge currently supports several basic survey question types. To create and schedule a standard survey, you will need to do the following.

1. Authenticate with the Bridge server.

a. Create the Survey

Bridge provides Survey APIs to create one or more surveys.

b. Save and Publish

Once you have saved a final survey to the server, you should must call the Publish Survey API to make the survey available for use by your app. For a long survey, you should publish the survey intermittently so as to have a record of your changes.

c. Add a Schedule

Navigate to the "Scheduling" menu item. Tap the "New Schedule Plan" button in the upper right. Assign a label for the schedule, and include one or more activities. In this case, you will need to set "Take Survey" drop-down with the survey you have just published. Remember to then tap the "Save" button to save your schedule.

d. Add the Survey to the AppConfig

Navigate to the "App Configs" and add the survey to the app config for your application. You can also add information to the clientData JSON blob, and add schemas that are used by your application to upload task data.

2. Within your App

Using only the standard survey question types provided via the Bridge UI, no further actions are required. However, if you do wish to customize the Bridge surveys, you will need to implement the taskViewController(_ taskViewController: UIViewController, viewControllerForStep stepModel: RSDStepViewModel) -> UIViewController? method of the RSDTaskViewControllerDelegate to return a custom step view controller.

Research Task Setup

To add a custom active task, you will need to set up JSON files defining the task, include factory overrides for any custom steps, and include a storyboard or nib for any custom view controllers. See MotorControl within the mPower2 project for an example. Additionally, you will need to set up the task and schema for uploading to synapse and scheduling the task.

The following example instructions use the "Tapping" test as an example.

1. Authenticate with the Bridge server

a. Add a Task Identifier

Task identifiers can be added to the taskIdentifiers property of the App object defined for your study, using the Apps APIs. Use only alphanumeric characters in your identifiers!

b. Add a Upload Schema

Upload schemas can be added via Bridge’s Upload Schema APIs. Add the fields that map to the results for this schema.

To understand how the mapping works, you will need to go spelunking by searching out RSDArchivable. This is a protocol that is used to indicate which results should be archived and uploaded. For example, the Tapping schema would include the archived result from the motion sensors, the MCTTappingResultObject, and all RSDAnswerResult objects included in the top-level RSDTaskResult. The schema looks like this:

Field Type
answers.handSelection String
answers.medicationTiming String
right_motion.json Attachment
left_motion.json Attachment
right_tapping.samples Attachment
left_tapping.samples Attachment

The "answers" file is a JSON dictionary with a mapping of all the RSDAnswerResult objects where identifier is the key and value is the value. The "rightmotion.json" file is the motion sensor recording for the right hand and "leftmotion.json" is the motion sensor recording for the left hand. The "righttapping.samples" and "lefttapping.samples" fields are defined by the MCTTappingResultObject archive where a JSON dictionary file is created for "righttapping" and "lefttapping" and the "samples" is a key within that dictionary.

c. Add a Schedule

Navigate to the "Scheduling" menu item. Tap the "New Schedule Plan" button in the upper right. Assign a label for the schedule, and include one or more activities. In this case, you will need to set "Do Task" with the selected task as "Tapping". Remember to then tap the "Save" button to save your schedule.

2. Map the identifiers in the App Config

a. Add the Task Identifier to the clientData

By default, for schedules that use a "Task Identifier", the schedule manager will look in the SBABridgeConfiguration for the mapping to find the task. The default is to look for a resource file in the main bundle with the same name as the task. For a more complicated set up, you can either add the task to the bridge configuration in code or by adding a JSON blob to the client data. See the mPower2 DataSourceManager for an example of a hard coded mapping. See SBAActivityMappingObject for the JSON schema for setting up client data for download from the AppConfig.

b. Add the "Schema Revision" to the "Schemas (Tasks)" in the App Config

Navigate to the "App Config" menu item using the left menu of the Bridge Study Manager UI. Select the app configuration for your application. Under the list of schemas, add the schema and set the revision number. Hit the "Save" button to save.


While this is not a complete set of detailed instructions for all the various permutations that may be applicable for your project, hopefully this guide provides enough instruction to get you started developing your own iOS research applications.